Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

Man arrested and charged in US shooting of UAE student

Leon Flowers, 23, was taken into custody following the death of Neil Kumar

Neil Kumar, 30, who grew up in the Emirates, was shot dead in the US on Wednesday.
Neil Kumar, 30, who grew up in the Emirates, was shot dead in the US on Wednesday.

A man has been arrested in the US following the shooting of a student from the UAE.

Leon Flowers, 23, was charged with murder and robbery after Neil Kumar, 30, was killed while working part-time at a petrol station in Alabama.

Police officers said Flowers, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter following a separate shooting in 2015, was taken into custody on Saturday morning.

Kumar, who was in the US studying for a master’s degree in computer science, was shot dead early last Wednesday while opening up the garage in Pike County.

On Monday, the student's parents and two older sisters released a statement describing his death as unbearable.

Police released this CCTV showing the moment a gunmen shot Kumar.
Police released this CCTV showing the moment a gunmen shot Kumar.

Purush and Seema Kumar said their son was “kind, witty and charming”, and that his killing had left a hole in their hearts.

“You are loved and missed by so many because of your kind, witty, charming and selfless nature,” the family said.

“Your loss is unbearable and you have left a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. We will miss you for ever beloved son and dearest little brother.”

Originally from Kerala, Kumar’s parents have lived in Sharjah for most of their lives and raised their three children in the emirate.

Leon Flowers, 23, of Troy, has been charged with murder and robbery. Pike County Sheriff's Office
Leon Flowers, 23, of Troy, has been charged with murder and robbery. Pike County Sheriff's Office

Their son, who was enrolled at Troy University, is understood to have left for America about a year ago after completing his studies in Chennai, eastern India.

On Sunday, his parents and sisters, who now live in the US, attended his ­funeral.

The service was held in the chapel of Dillard Funeral Home in Troy. Police have yet to catch the killer but a $4,000 (Dh14,700) reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest.

“You were a good friend and you liked to keep all people around you happy,” said one friend, Raghavendra Pogaku, in an online tribute. “You were determined, intelligent and smart. My deepest condolences to your family.”

Neil Kumar pictured as a young boy. Leon Flowers was taken into custody on Saturday.
Neil Kumar pictured as a young boy. Leon Flowers was taken into custody on Saturday.

“Neil lived for a mere 30 years but still lived life to the fullest,” said classmate Aditya Kiran. “We must all learn from him.

"I am really lucky to have our paths cross. We will do our best to carry his spirit and ideologies with us always.”

The attack, which officers described as "senseless", took place shortly after 6am as Kumar opened the petrol station, which included a mini supermarket.

The masked gunman is understood to have shot him at close range before stealing a small quantity of money.

Detectives said the incident – captured on CCTV – was over in less than a minute and Kumar had not resisted the robbery.

“After reviewing the camera system we saw a male enter the store with a hand gun, pointed at the clerk and went behind the counter,” said Moses Davenport, chief of police in the city of ­Brundidge.

“And, apparently, [the gunman] just got aggravated because the clerk seemed to be very co-operative, and he shot him.”

Updated: July 29, 2019 10:04 PM

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